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« Okay, I'm Glad This Came To Nothing | Main | A Voice Crying Out In The Wasteland »

June 08, 2007

Comments

skyhawk

Jay Leno sometimes does a segment of crazy 911 calls and there are some crazy people out there...

Darren

At my job, we attorneys take turns being on call at night and over the weekend for emergencies. Our office phone message on the weekends specifically defines what "emergency" means: a truant officer or social worker at the door.

In 7 years of being an attorney, I have taken probably 100 emergency calls. I would classify about 5% of them as true emergencies.

LarryD

This is funny - I wonder if it qualifies as an urban legend.

Jeff

"This is funny - I wonder if it qualifies as an urban legend. "

No, because it is true. I am pretty sure I have heard Leno play this exact clip. People are absolute morons.

Matthew S

As a 911 dispatcher I can agree that people will call with wierd things as "emergencies" and they will also call stating "this is not an emergency but someone is breaking in to the house next door".

Under the Mercy,

Matthew S

Esau

This lady is a self-centered jerk who so selfishly cares so much about herself, she would actually have the nerve to call 911, which is supposed to be used only for an emergency, just to resolve her trivial issue with her fast-food order of a "western bacon cheeseburger"!

Imagine all the real 911 calls that required emergency assistance such as those in a life-threatening situation, who couldn't be answered in time because of self-centered jerks like this person here who tie up the lines for their selfish needs!

God save us from these morons!

Maureen

Pretty funny, but people do stuff like that all the time.

What kills me is the Snopes commentary. A "stereotypical" Orange County soccer mom? They don't even qualify it with "here in California".

Sigh. Californians are so provincial. I guarantee that the rest of us don't really think often enough about Orange County Way Over There to _have_ a stereotype, other than, "Wasn't there some TV show set there sometime?" "Don't know. Didn't watch it if there was."

MWCooney

(1) As a cop I can testify that not only do such calls get made to 911, but also that many get past the dispatchers to us on patrol. As just one example, I had one guy screaming obscenities at me because I would not call his ex-girlfriend to make her get back together with him. He demanded that I "protect and serve" him, which is why he paid taxes, etc.

(2) In many places 911 is no longer just for emergencies. Since "my mailbox was smashed a week ago" is considered by some to be an emergency, our 911 center uses a "triage" method for classifying calls according to priority. With this system, the only way to get us dispatched is to use 911, but the 911 call taker will assess its priority so that we are given the most urgent calls first.

Esau

I guarantee that the rest of us don't really think often enough about Orange County Way Over There


I remember some folks on the news radio who were talking about the riot that occurred in Detroit after the Pistons won the NBA basketball championship way back when.

They were asking themselves -- in relation to Hockey, "If the Ducks do win the Stanley Cup, what will they do? Throw sushi at each other?"

Mary Kay

My first reaction was along the line of Esau's, but I'll bet this woman gave everyone a good laugh and gave them something fresh to parody the next time they needed to vent.

Esau

(1) As a cop I can testify that not only do such calls get made to 911, but also that many get past the dispatchers to us on patrol. As just one example, I had one guy screaming obscenities at me because I would not call his ex-girlfriend to make her get back together with him. He demanded that I "protect and serve" him, which is why he paid taxes, etc.

(2) In many places 911 is no longer just for emergencies. Since "my mailbox was smashed a week ago" is considered by some to be an emergency, our 911 center uses a "triage" method for classifying calls according to priority. With this system, the only way to get us dispatched is to use 911, but the 911 call taker will assess its priority so that we are given the most urgent calls first.


MWcooney:

This is indeed a tragedy!

Since when did 911 become a sort of "room service" for the citizen instead of an emergency call center?

These folks really touch my nerve!

I really feel sorry for those genuine emergencies that couldn't be responded to in time because of jerks who thoughtlessly tie up the line on trivial and selfish matters, where perhaps even the lives of some have become not only endangered but lost due to these instances of self-centeredness, not to mention, stupidity.

Monica

with all this talk about hamburgers, you are making me hungry.

Jordan Potter

They made a television series about Orange County? When did they do that?

Must be on cable or something. I don't subscribe to cable.

Greg

I thought Orange County was in New York State where those whacked out guys with money to burn build the motorcycles., I have seen the show on Discovery and The Learning Channel: Orange County Choppers

Dr. Eric

Funny, I thought Orange County Choppers was located in Orange County CA for a while.

JohnD

Yup, in some areas, police stations will TELL you to call 911 for non-emergency police issues. It kinda negates the point of having 911. It also causes confusion in the public that leads to the kind of nonsense contained in this article.

Marcel LeJeune

Lord help us!

I think if I was the dispatcher then I would have told the woman that an officer was on the way to ticket her for calling 911 for a stupid reason and for trespassing.

JoAnna

In our area we have a non-emergency police line and 911. I'm hoping neither get abused too hideously.

Sort of off topic, does anyone remember the show "Rescue: 911"? I loved that show when I was younger.

Esau

...I would have told the woman that an officer was on the way to ticket her for calling 911 for a stupid reason and for trespassing.


Marcel LeJeune:

I believe that should be one possible course of action that should be taken in order to deter folks from using 911 as their personal playtoy for such ridiculous requests!

Sort of off topic, does anyone remember the show "Rescue: 911"? I loved that show when I was younger.

JoAnna:

Didn't Captain Kirk host that show?

Red Cardigan

I do think one of the reasons this kind of thing happens is that it can be hard to find non-emergency numbers when you need to do so quickly. Better public awareness of non-emergency numbers could be helpful.

I once called 911 to report a small brush fire in the grass to the right of the highway during an unusually dry spring. I'm sure it would have been better for me to call the local fire department, but since I was in the car and not in my local area 911 was the only number I knew to call, even though the fire in its current size wasn't exactly an emergency (other than a potential source of 'gawker accidents).

Esau

I do think one of the reasons this kind of thing happens is that it can be hard to find non-emergency numbers when you need to do so quickly.

...

I once called 911 to report a small brush fire in the grass to the right of the highway during an unusually dry spring.


Red Cardigan:

Your call to 911 is more justified than a 911 call about a fast-food order regarding a "western bacon cheeseburger".

Jonathan Prejean

They made a television series about Orange County? When did they do that?

You're killing me, Jordan. You're absolutely killing me. I exhort everyone to please go out now and purchase your DVDs of the following fine series:
The O.C.
Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County
The Real Housewives of Orange County

Then, in addition to being able to understand Snopes references to a "stereotypical Orange County soccer mom," you will be familiar with our beautiful beaches, attractive shopping facilities, exciting theme parks, sports teams, natural beauty, and other desirable amenities. We citizens of Orange County would love to share our wonderful home with you, and we hope you will bring your families to see us. Solely as a public service, we remind you not to forget your wallet! (Not because we want you to spend money or contribute to our tax revenues or anything. Because we would never think like that. We just like to meet new people. Particularly people who spend money.)

Make me more thankful that my city has implemented 311 for non-emergency but still city pertinent information, e.g. trees knocked down from a storm.

JoAnna
JoAnna:

Didn't Captain Kirk host that show?

No, but William Shatner did. ;)

Mary

When idiot kids used to drive a golf cart around the streets of the neighborhood, my parents found out that they should call the non-emergency number for the police.

John E

Slightly off topic but it reminded me of a Catholic Answers podcast episode a week or two ago with Jimmy as the guest. Jimmy got a call from a non-Catholic Christian who had called in to set everyone straight on a shotgun blast of issues such as "worshipping saints and Mary". After Jimmy interrupted and carefully responded to several issues the caller had already brought up, the caller replied, "Well, I don't believe that." So...what do you want me to do for you? Schedule a brain transplant?!

Randolph Carter

Imagine all the real 911 calls that required emergency assistance such as those in a life-threatening situation, who couldn't be answered in time because of self-centered jerks like this person here who tie up the lines for their selfish needs!

Yes, I imagine that San Clemente is so entirely filled with emergency situations, and that their emergency dispatchers are so busy answering false-alarm calls, that the place must be in a verifiable state of uninhibited anarchy. I imagine the situation must look something like this:

---

Caller: THE ROBOTS HAVE BETRAYED US! WE MADE THEM SMART! . . . TOO SMART! BUT WE UNDERESTIMATED THEIR ABILITY TO OVERRIDE THEIR PROGRAMMING! NOW THEY'RE OVERTAKING THE CITY! GO TO DEFCON 1! . . .

Phone: You have reached the San Clemente Police Department's Emergency Dispatch Service. We are sorry to report that all our phone-lines are tied up with inane, frivilous, non-emergency matters. Please wait until a line is free, and pray that death will be quick in coming.

Caller Who Actually Got Through To 911: They cancelled Jericho! Bring it back! Bring it back!

Dispatcher: Alright, alright . . . spaz . . .

---

Sorry for that Esau, but while I agree with you that this sort of incident is stupid and idiotic and all-too-common, your particular word choice conjured up an image of my mind an image of a city beset by robotic invaders; invaders of which the police are completely ignorant, because someone had to call the police to complain about burgers/TV shows being cancelled/the death of Captain America being a lame publicity stunt/et cetera. I understand that this sort of shenanigan is woeful, but let's not blow it out of proportion ;)

Ed Peters

I've never liked the phrase "soccer mom"; at least those moms take their kids to soccer practice.

Eileen R

After Jimmy interrupted and carefully responded to several issues the caller had already brought up, the caller replied, "Well, I don't believe that."

JohnE, I just listened to that one yesterday during my lunch break! I was cracking up. Jimmy was wonderfully polite, but the caller seemed really taken aback that Jimmy wasn't there to change his mind magically. It was very much "Woah? I have a free will? Radical!"

JoAnna
Slightly off topic but it reminded me of a Catholic Answers podcast episode a week or two ago with Jimmy as the guest. Jimmy got a call from a non-Catholic Christian who had called in to set everyone straight on a shotgun blast of issues such as "worshipping saints and Mary". After Jimmy interrupted and carefully responded to several issues the caller had already brought up, the caller replied, "Well, I don't believe that." So...what do you want me to do for you? Schedule a brain transplant?!

LOL, I remember that once. I was listening as I drove and I was so bemused at that guy's attitude that I missed my turn! :P

Jarnor23

Actually, I have heard that worthless 911 calls can indeed delay real emergency calls from being answered, especially in larger cities, so the problem may be quite real. Kang and Kodos nonwithstanding.

tau gamma pi

Near here recently there was a legit 911 call made by a five-year-old... I don't remember the details but the person died because the 911 people thought it was a prank and didn't come.

Bill Q

I'm an Orange Countian whose never called 911 to report a burger discrepancy. I did have the disturbing experience once on the freeway of seeing someone's car in flames burning six or seven feet into the air, and I was unable to get anything from a busy signal when I tried to call 911 on my cell phone. I could only hope that it was busy because everyone else on the freeway was trying to call 911 at the same time.

Bill Q

... or maybe Burger King was just having a really bad day.

Andrew

For another funny fast-food reference, there's WA Yankovic's latest video clip. (You can skip to 3:22 for the drive-thru part).

Laura

just an interesting question I thought up while reading this blog. I'd actually been thinking of this situation for a few days now, but anyhoo... I travel a lot with my guide dog and if we're in a different state or city, I'm wondering if it's still appropriate for me to call 911 if I'm denied access by someone of any establishment? Now let me further state that I have never had to even threaten a call to the cops if my dog and I are tussling with some idiot manager or employee who doesn't know the ADA laws, but I've spoken with several friends who have had to threaten, and have actually had to call the police in situations like this. Let me also add, that the cops, as awesome as they are, really can't do much when it comes to this sort of thing. About all they can do is show up and say, yup, that's the law and you have to let the dog in, but still my question remains. Should I just call 911? I asked a friend of mine who worked as a county dispatcher, and he said I should call the non-emergency line. What would you all suggest? I certainly don't want to tie up the lines from actual life-threatening calls, and usualy, just the threat of calling the cops works, but sometimes, you have to carry it out.
thanks all,
Laura, and Torpedo the amazing guide dog... yes, that's his real name, funny huh?

Cody

Won't somebody please think of the children!!!

Sean S.

One disturbing question that has yet to be answered is: Why was this woman ordering one cheeseburger for kids, plural?

Shouldn't that be cheeseburgers, plural, or kid, singular?

Esau

Actually, I have heard that worthless 911 calls can indeed delay real emergency calls from being answered, especially in larger cities, so the problem may be quite real.

Thanks, Jarnor23!

This is what Randolph Carter fails to realize.

That unlike his science-fiction based scenario, this type of incident where delayed response (and even non-response) to genuine 911 emergency calls due to the lines being tied up primarily because of misuse of 911 for such trivial, non-emergency calls is all too real.

Imagine somebody close to you needing emergency attention (be it a heart-attack, gunshot, etc.) and you placed a 911 call only to be answered with a recorded message that all the lines are currently busy and to hang on the line.

In fact, it is not unheard of to actually experience a busy signal when calling 911.

Just how many 911 operators do you think are available to answer such calls?


Mr. Carter,

If you don't believe that 911 call centers are very much over-burdened by such non-emergency calls thus preventing real emergency calls from obtaining the immediate attention and emergency assistance they deserve, I would encourage you to visit the following website and read the following news article there concerning this very issue:

Link
New non-emergency system to ease burden on busy 911


EXCERPT:

New non-emergency system to ease burden on busy 911
By Michael Blue
Daily Texan Staff

A new non-emergency communication system unveiled by the Austin Police Department Tuesday may reduce an overloaded 911 system and help police focus their efforts on actual emergencies.

About 50 community members and police officials gathered at the Texas Medical Association Building to hear about the APD's fall launching of the new 311 non-emergency communication system. With the new system, APD hopes 311 operators will absorb the non-emergency calls that have overburdened the 911 system.

Calls to 311 should not require immediate police action and include offenses such as property crimes no longer in process, animal control problems, illegally parked vehicles, vehicles blocking alleys or driveways or calls asking questions about telephone numbers, addresses and hours of operation for APD's divisions or programs.

Paul Flaningan, APD spokesman, said the 311 system is specifically designed for calls that are not life threatening, as opposed to the 911 system that handles emergency situations.

"[The 311 calls] are for non-emergencies like someone calling and saying 'Hey, some people are blowing off fireworks,' or there is a water-main break or a fire hydrant erupts," Flaningan said.

Currently, the 911 system is being deluged with non-emergency calls.

APD estimates that between 50 and 60 percent of 911 calls are non-emergencies an estimated 240,000 and 360,000 phone calls that 311 operators could possibly handle. The effect could free up 911 operators to concentrate on situations for which 911 was created tackling emergencies that require immediate police intervention.

...

With the installment of the 311 system, APD believes that several objectives can be accomplished. Police objectives include decreasing officer response times to emergencies, reducing the number of 911 calls abandoned due to lengthy waiting times, and most importantly, the APD said freeing up officer time to concentrate on problem-solving activities.

Randolph Carter

Esau,

I can now see where you are coming from. Forgive me for misunderstanding your position. My point of contention with what you said was that I found it unlikely that one individual, of no matter how mean an intelligence or base an intellect, could tie-up the entire emergency dispatch service. I misread your first post, and thought that you were laying all the blame on this one rather stupid woman, whereas I can now see that you were not lashing out against one individual moron tying up the 911 lines with stupid, non-emergency calls, but were rather lashing out at all the idiots, in total, who, due to their vast and stupid numbers, are capable of tying up every emergency dispatch service phone line from here to China and back again.

One fool is not enough to cause much harm; a thousand fools can deal irreparable damage to the world (as we have done since the beginning of time, and will likely keep doing unto the very end). I can now see why you would be so incensed over this happening, of the nincompoop Burger-Lady and her ilk tying up the emergency dispatch service, while other people may be suffering from strokes, third-degree burns, gunshot wounds, and whatnot.

Amy P.

I didn't catch if anyone noticed this, but I heard a similar story about a woman calling 911 for nanny service (a la the TV show "Nanny 911").

My favorite part:

Woman: Well...that is...that...you're supposed to be here to protect me.

Dispatcher: Well, what are we protecting you from, a wrong cheeseburger?

Woman: No...

Dispatcher: Is this like...is this a harmful cheeseburger or something?

Priceless.

MissJean

Laura, I've been in trouble a time or two (car breakdowns) and dialed the operator, then explained that I need a connection to the nearest police station. I hope that helps.

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